「星待つひと：中篇」 (Hoshi Matsu Hito: Chuuhen)
Since I wrote about the first episode of Mahoutsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito, the news has come that a full series is on the way this autumn, like the OVAs from Wit (with most of the same staff). This was far from unexpected (it’s silly to imagine that the production committee would drop the kind of coin this lavish prequel cost unless they had a straight adaptation in the pipeline to generate revenue) but it’s nevertheless welcome. As glorious as “Hoshi Matsu Hito” is, it’s really only a teaser of what’s to come.
None of us can say whether or not the TV series will feature the same staggering production values as the OVAs (though the preview certainly does). In terms of art and animation “Hoshi” may be as impressive as anything I’ve seen in a non-theatrical anime since Seirei no Moribito. But story-wise the series should be far more predictable than the prequel, since everything we’re seeing now is original material. The manga story is really good, though perhaps just shy of truly great in my view (there’ll be plenty of time to talk about that later), but quite different than the prequel in tone. Not better or worse, I think – just different.
I find “Hoshi Matsu Hito” to be a rather reflective, meditative piece – somehow oddly cold and sentimental at the same time. As an origin story for Chise it holds water – nothing here really strikes me as discordant with what I know of her character and her future. As for Miura Riichi, he represents a rare island of kindness in the ocean of loneliness and cruelty that is Chise’s life. So far Miura-san is mostly a bundle of mysteries – the strange library he calls home, the girl named Mayumi he sees in painful visions, the invisible presence to which he deferentially speaks when Chise is absent. But one thing he certainly seems to be is kind, and for Chise, that kindness is more precious than the books she reads when visiting him.
For me, really, the experience of these OVAs is mostly about the stunning imagery they bring to the screen. It’s pretty rare in anime that I can be brought to slack-jawed speechlessness by nothing more than visuals, but I’ve lost count of how many times “Hoshi” has done it in two episodes. That they’ve been able to so magnificently bring us into magical worlds bodes well for the series, because Mahoutsukai no Yome’s appeal hinges on that very ability – to transport the readers inside the story, to feel as if the fantastic places they’re visiting are real. The nighttime scene of the star projector in the library is one of the most beautiful visual sequences I’ve ever seen in anime, but there are others in the episode not far behind it.
If indeed Miura’s fate is as it appears at the end of this episode, one certainly can’t help but worry for Chise’s state of mind. This is a girl who believes (largely because she’s always been told) that she brings bad luck and misery with her wherever she goes. It’s hard to imagine she wouldn’t blame herself for what happened at the library (well, let’s be honest – it kinda was her fault). I don’t want to go into too much detail here for fear of spoiling those of you who haven’t read the manga, but suffice to say that as Chise’s origin story, “Hoshi” is tasked with showing us how she became the girl she is now. The Miura story, for all that it is compelling in its own right, ultimately has to serve that larger purpose…